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What HC&S does with it’s fields after sugar cane will affect us all. Do you have a voice in the matter?

HC&S’s fields below Makawao seem to have been planted with Thistle. Really gnarly thistle. Anyone know if it’s just to keep people out of the fields? or is this a crop or soil amendment?

What HC&S does with it’s fields after sugar cane will effect us all. Do you have a voice in the matter? The Water and Burn Permits they pulled for years, and the burning of coal are now being seen as violations of the public trust. Right to Farm bills are intended to strip you of your rights.

 

Click on image to hear more from Gov. Ige who claims Hawaii is a leader in Conservation. Really? Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 12.23.20 AM

 

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Gov. Ige Claims Hawaii is a World Leader in Conservation. Really?

Gov Ige shares his excitement that Hawaii was selected as the first ever US venue for the The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – the world’s largest conservation event to be held here Sept 1 -10 2016, because, says Ige, Hawaii is such a shining example of conservation efforts, a model for the world. Really?

We suggest that just the opposite is true. It’s just as easy to assert that Hawaii was chosen for this once in 4 years event because what’s going on here is among the most critical, evolving, man-made environmental disasters in the world. The conservationists are coming to try to save Hawaii not praise it.

It wasn’t so long ago that farms in Hawaii grew 90% of our food, with tons more going to export. Today farming in Hawaii has been given over to corporate driven, chemical-based “agricultural manufacturing” of seed products for export. So complete has this takeover been that we now are forced to import 90% of the food we eat and our delicate environment is being subjected to the massive risks posed by world’s largest array of open-field testing of unique biological creations and chemical cocktails, including and especially Round Up. whose active ingredient Gylphosate is a weak antibiotic and endocrine disruptor. Persistent exposure to weak antibiotics is a known path to disease as it fosters resistance, expressed as super bugs and super weeds and throws off the natural balance of beneficial bacteria that all life forms life rely on. Glyphosate is suspected to cause Leaky Gut Syndrome, Obesity, Gluten Intolerance http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3945755/ Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and a host of other dysfunctions http://ecowatch.com/2015/01/23/health-problems-linked-to-monsanto-roundup/ including many women’s issues because Round Up has been found to hinder Lactobacillus bacteria which is necessary for proper vagina flora balance. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22362186 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaginal_flora

Here on Maui Monsanto and Dow spent millions and still failed to ward off a community-driven electoral initiative to require independent testing of their field practices. The community here still desperately wants to know that their children are not being harmed by corporate abuse of our deeply-flawed, corporation-designed federal regulatory system and woefully understaffed and underfunded state oversight. In spite of Big Ag’s massive spending, the most ever for any local ballot initiative, Maui’s voters approved the motion and the companies are now spending even more fighting the people’s wishes in court.

HC&S’s decision to suspend sugar cane production was not only based on wet weather and a drop in sugar prices. The permitting process by which the company takes its water from public lands and which allow it to fill our air with toxic cane smoke are now being reviewed by the courts as violations of the public trust by state agencies. As well, a scam that was recently exposed whereby HC&S sold electricity generated from burning coal instead of bagasse in their sugar mill (that has no air pollution scrubbers), also contributed cane’s downfall.

Hawaii’s current agricultural system is not at all sustainable and with any luck this confluence here of people who know what they are talking about will serve to blow this issue up to world exposure and force our state and county governments to right this deadly wrong. We grow only 10% of the food we eat. Who will feed our people if the boats stop coming or a tsunami destroys our ports? The state’s efforts to re-establish food security here have been anemic at best.

The governor does mention trying to establish diversified Ag parks on all the islands, enhancing the Ag loan program to facilitate opportunities for small farmers, and skewing the Dept. of Ag’s attention away from corporate Ag towards the needs of small farmers. We applaud all these actions, they can’t happen fast enough. The Governor also acknowledges that the state has a problem when it comes to staffing it’s agencies. For some reason they can’t seem to find and hire qualified people. What is up with that?

One would think, especially with such a gathering happening here, that the Governor would be racing to enhance and increase Hawaii’s bragging rights on sustainability by supporting demonstration projects of farming techniques like ultra low-cost Korean Natural Farming. KNF has been adopted by the entire nation of South Korea and is winning favor the world over wherever Monsanto, Dow, Pioneer, Syngenta and the other chemical companies have not been allowed to dominate agricultural practices. Korean Natural Farming relies on enhancing the biodiversity of soil microbes and bacteria rather than killing them with Round-Up. The chemical companies view KNF just as they do GMO labeling and Maui’s GM Moratorium, as their enemy against which they will go to no end to stop.

Hawaii should be racing to support clinical studies of techniques like ultra low-cost Korean Natural Farming rather than allowing Monsanto to support a UH student’s Masters Thesis that explicitly seeks to discredit KNF.

There are a few measures before the legislature currently that will support the development of diversified non-chemical based Ag. HB2568 makes an appropriation for a nutrient cycling center pilot project on Maui. Testify at http://capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=2586&year=2016

SB1043 on invasive species would fund a pilot project to deal with little fire ants, coconut rhinoceros beetles, and coqui frogs. Testify at http://capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=1043&year=2016

Also please join and support your local chapter of Hawaii Farmers Union United​
They support pilot programs across Hawaii that support all forms of diversified AG.

Gov Ige’s campaign organization staged this “Chow Fun with the Governor” talk story event in a Kahului elementary school. His campaign only announced the event a few days before. The Maui News, after initially posting the event, for some reason subsequently removed the notice from their website. Members of the press were told it was by invitation only, which wasn’t the case. Hardly any press or community activists showed up. In fact there wasn’t much of a turnout at all. But there were good questions from the audience and we’ll air a full length version on our Akaku show, Mondays and Sundays at 7PM on Ch 55.

Thanks for viewing.

 

Thanks for viewing.

 

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Makana’s new anthem:

The fire is ours, the hour is now, the tide is set to turn… rise up and BERN

The fire is ours,
The hour is now,
The tide is set to turn…

Rise up and BERN

http://www.FireIsOurs.com

Lyrics and Music by Makana • Directed by Zac Heileson

Also check out Neil Young at Maui’s “Outgrow Monsanto” event:

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Fire Is Ours Lyrics:

I’ve been lied to. Misled.
Built up by what they said
Lifted only to be let down

I’ve been taken for a ride
Given power to decide
Only to find out I was wrong

But I’ve learned to tell the ones who fake it
From the few really fit to run

Just follow the money they’ve been takin’
And the truth will shine like the sun

I’m so tired of lies now babe
Don’t wanna compromise no way

And I feel the burn
For someone who can’t be bought
To back the man who’s fought
For the People of America

Color. Gender.
Who’s a bigger spender?
Party. Personality.

Soundbite. Get it right.
Entertain ’em, it’s a fight
Pick the one who most thinks like me

Don’t speak of any real solutions
It’s the shock appeal they’re looking for
Don’t criticize the institution
But I can’t take it anymore

Aren’t you tired of lies now baby?
It’s time for us to rise- no more maybe

And I feel the burn
For the truth to come across
To melt away the gloss
And reveal their motivations

And you’ll feel the burn
For integrity to lead
To focus on the needs
Of the People of America

Somebody’s tuggin’ at your heartstrings
Sayin’ what you wanna hear
But they’re just a pawn to the real kings
Playin’ upon your fear
The love of power is a puppet string
But can’t control the love we bring
The fire is ours
The hour is now
The tide is set to turn

And I feel the burn
To cast aside the chains
And salvage what remains
Of a dream worth defending

And you’ll feel the Bern
Standing up to greed
Word aligned with deed
Worthy President of America

——–

ARTIST WEBSITE: www.MakanaMusic.com
SONG PRODUCED BY RUBI REEVES & SATCH ROMERO
VIDEO DIRECTED AND SHOT BY ZAC HEILESON
POST PRODUCTION BY MÖNIUS PRODUCTIONS info@themonius.com
CREATIVE CONSULTANT: EVAN TECTOR
MEDIA REQUESTS: press@makanamusic.com
DOWNLOAD REMIX STEMS: www.FireIsOurs.com

This song and video are available to the public under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b…). The CC license does not grant rights for the use of the TV news clips that were incorporated under fair use to make this video.

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Myths of cannabis & hemp cross-pollination – 10 mile distance between open fields more than enough protection

By Joy Beckerman
Volunteers harvest hemp at a farm in Springfield, Colo. in October 2013 in a during the first known harvest of industrial hemp in the U.S. since the 1950s. Expanded hemp growing will be happening in 2014 with the advent of state licensing. (P. Solomon Banda, Associated Press file)

Volunteers harvest hemp at a farm in Springfield, Colo. in October 2013 in a during the first known harvest of industrial hemp in the U.S. since the 1950s. Expanded hemp growing will be happening in 2014 with the advent of state licensing. (P. Solomon Banda, Associated Press file)

Oh, the irony. On the one hand, marijuana and hemp activists have been tortured for decades by the DEA’s exceedingly absurd stance that marijuana growers will use industrial hemp fields to camouflage their marijuana plants; and on the other hand, there has recently arisen the hysterical stance by some populations of outdoor marijuana growers that marijuana and industrial hemp fields must be kept extraordinary distances apart in order to avoid cross-pollination. To be sure – whereas the DEA stance is unequivocally non-factual and has no basis in reality, the cross-pollination hysteria is actually grounded in truth, albeit recently a distorted and emotionally-based version of the truth. Greed inspires irrationality.

Let’s have an intelligent conversation based in fact because there is no need for hysteria and cross-pollination is a common agricultural issue with a common agricultural solution…and one that would never require a distance of anywhere in the realm of 200 miles between plant species types. We don’t see the State of Kentucky in an uproar. Make no mistake, Kentucky’s Number One cash crop is outdoor marijuana while Kentucky simultaneously is the country’s Number One industrial hemp producer (both feral [i.e. leftover/wild] and deliberate, now that it is legal to cultivate there).

No doubt it will be helpful to found our discussion on a necessary botany lesson, especially since the most common misunderstanding about the “difference” between marijuana and industrial hemp is that “hemp is ‘the male’ and marijuana is ‘the female.’” In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. “Cannabis” is the plant genus, “sativa” is Latin for “sown” or “cultivated” (and is included in many scientific plant species names), and the “L.” we often see associated with Cannabis sativa merely stands for the surname initial of Carl Linnaeus, the Swiss botanist who invented taxonomy. Cannabis sativa is a member of the Cannabaceae family. Within the Cannabis sativa plant species, we have the drug type known as “marijuana” and we have the oilseed and fiber type known as “industrial hemp.”

Both plant types – marijuana and industrial hemp – can be dieocious, which is to say they can be either exclusively male or exclusively female; and they can also be monoecious, which is to say they can have the staminate (i.e. the male pollen-producing part) and pistillate (i.e. the female ovum-producing part) on the same plant. However, marijuana is a high-resin crop generally planted about four feet apart for its medicine or narcotic rich leaves and buds, whereas industrial hemp is a low-resin crop generally planted about four inches apart for its versatile stalk and seed. The different kinds of marijuana are classified as “strains” and the different kinds of industrial hemp are classified as “varieties” and “cultivars.”

Industrial hemp is non-psychoactive with a higher ratio of CBD to THC, thus smoking even several acres of it will not result in achieving a high; conversely, only a memorable headache is achieved, regardless of Herculean effort. Marijuana flower production and industrial hemp production cultivation processes are distinctly different. Finally, there is no such thing as a plant or plant species known as “Cannabis hemp” and “hemp” is not a synonym for “marijuana,” “pot,” or “ganja,” etc. Botanists have argued for ages over whether a separate plant species “Cannabis indica” exists, and that age-old debate is not being addressed here.

The significant difference between the two types that effects cross-pollination and legitimately frightens marijuana growers is that hemp plants go to seed fairly quickly and would thus pollinate any marijuana plants growing in the same field or in a nearby field. This is botanically analogous to field corn and sweet corn, one of which is grown for human consumption, and one of which is grown for animal consumption. Corn producers take great measures to prevent any cross-pollination between their field and sweet corns; including growing the different varieties of corn at different times or making sure there is sufficient distance between the different fields. Either way, these corn producers do what is necessary to ensure that pollen carrying the dominant gene for starch synthesis is kept clear of cornsilks borne on plants of the recessive (sweet) variety.

Cross-pollination of hemp with marijuana would significantly reduce the potency of the marijuana plants. While hemp farmers are not going to want marijuana cross-pollinating with their hemp and increasing their hemp’s THC content, it would be entirely more disastrous for the marijuana grower if hemp were to cross-pollinate with their marijuana due to the cost of producing and value of selling medical and adult-use marijuana. The concern is real. The concern is valid. But the concern does not merit the level of hysteria that appears to have arisen in Washington. We must take a note from Kentucky.

Industrial hemp is primarily pollinated by wind, and most pollen travels approximately 100 yards, give or take. Bees, of course, can also pollinate hemp; and bees travel up to three miles from their hives. It is also true that, depending on the weight and size of any plant pollen, combined with other natural conditions, wind-borne pollen can technically travel up to 2,000 miles away from the source. Yes, it’s true, up to 2,000 miles. And also it would be beyond ridiculous to give serious agricultural consideration to this extreme factoid for entirely obvious reasons.

Cannabis case in point: Kentucky. Kentucky may not have legal outdoor marijuana grows, but you’d better believe that – like every other state in the nation – there’s a whole lotta marijuana being deliberately cultivated outdoors; and on quite a grand scale in Kentucky, which state learned centuries ago that Cannabis grows exceedingly well in that climate and soil. Kentucky was always been the heart of our nation’s industrial hemp farmlands, thus Kentucky is covered with more feral hemp than any other state. This issue of marijuana and hemp cross-pollination is old news and no news at all to the marijuana growers of Kentucky, who experience and demonstrate no sense of hysteria like that which has risen up in Washington.

Global industrial hemp leader and professional industrial hemp agrologist Prof. Anndrea Hermann, M.Sc, B.GS, P.Ag., who has been a certified Health Canada THC Sampler since 2005 and is the President of the U.S. Hemp Industries Association, has assisted with creating and reviewing hemp regulations in Canada, the European Union, South Africa, Uruguay, Australia, New Zealand, and several U.S. States. Anndrea refers to this issue of cross-pollination as the “Cannabis Clash” and “Cannabis Sex 101.” So what is the answer? What is a safe distance between marijuana and hemp fields?

The Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA), which is the global agency to which most developed countries subscribe for agricultural purposes, has completed its draft industrial hemp seed certification regulations, which rules include a range from a minimum distance of three (3) feet to a maximum distance of three (3) miles between different pedigrees and cultivars of industrial hemp. This is the same with Health Canada’s industrial hemp regulations. But we are talking about safe distances between two plant types – marijuana and industrial hemp. Absent intense research and collection of hard data that will be interesting to conduct as we move forward and funding becomes available, experts agree that a distance of ten (10) miles between hemp and marijuana fields is exceedingly appropriate to avoid cross-pollination. Or as Anndrea Hermann would say, “a nice, country road drive!”

This is not a complicated issue or a new issue. This is basic agriculture. Marijuana and industrial hemp are best friends and this is no time for them to start picking unnecessary fights with one another. Ten miles, folks; ten miles!

http://www.thesmokersclub.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/WeedBee.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/79/Cannabis_sativa_Koehler_drawing.jpg

Joy Beckerman is the President Hemp Ace International LLC, and the director of the Hemp Industries Association, Washington Chapter

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ACTION ALERT: This bill supports opening up the growing of industrial hemp to all of Hawaii!

Aloha Hempsters…please submit testimony and share with your lists
The Hemp Bill we’ve been waiting for!!!
The first hearing for Hawaii’s Industrial Hemp Bill HB2555 has been set. This bill supports opening up the growing of industrial hemp to all of Hawaii! The bill was introduced by Rep Ing and has been signed by 35 House Reps!!!!12671625_431028277090875_1803971848835389594_o MStatement.pages

 

TESTIMONY NEEDED NOW
The first hearing for Hawaii’s Industrial Hemp Bill HB2555 has been set. This bill supports opening up the growing of industrial hemp to all of Hawaii! The bill was introduced by Rep Ing and has been signed by 35 House Reps!!!!

Your voice is greatly needed!
Please take 5 minutes and submit testimony…it’s easy and necessary for this bill to become law.

Copy and Paste link below to submit testimony:
http://tinyurl.com/zd8n7fy <http://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Ftinyurl.com%2Fzd8n7fy&h=mAQFjauJCAQFwU3gVrp4spT1yCY8RWLWp0niSugXhiXtoew&enc=AZO24WstAOi7NMlyGobSn48jgNBSBkXCndGndSNGTeGjxeIvxYKmFdR-Xm7lmRbAoB7lY7shL0aQ1nu8PjZG6ojnl9RW5N_kyrmjtyVi4z0P09o1YCnScf2McAa1TQ-wBTo3N0KwAqDRXYjpAu2jM-t6gSanb_K98emDUPsyTkU3jKlc5JAYajc49mWgm1jZluwXSFGlOUmvnVnidCgq79dA&s=1>

When submitting testimony Remember to check the SUPPORT button or it defaults to comment only
If you would like to write in testimony you can copy and paste the sample testimony below or write your own.
You can also just click support and not add a testimony.

Sample testimony:

I strongly support HB2555
27 US states have already passed industrial hemp legislation. Hawaii is in a unique position to grow industrial hemp year round proven by the research done by UH over the past 2 years with it’s pilot program .It’s time to expand this program to all Hawaii’s Farmers and Ag companies alike. If Hawaii is to be on the leading edge of this multi-million dollar industry Hawaii farmers and Large Agriculture companies need to be able to grow this crop now!
Expanding the growing of industrial hemp to all Hawaii will give farmers the opportunity to grow this crop and develop seed and strains that will boost our economy while helping to clean our soil and reduce our dependency on imports.

Respectfully yours

(your name)

Please submit your testimony by Thursday 2/11/16 , 2 PM

Steve Rose
President / C.E.H.

Maui Hemp Institute for Research & Innovation
95 Lipoa Street  Kihei, HI 96753
“It’s Hempin’in …Maui Style”
808-357-4564



 

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Maui’s GM Moratorium NOT DEAD YET! Appeals court to hear SHAKA’s moratorium case.

Hokua-w-enforceThe 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments about whether to overturn a federal judge’s ruling last year that struck down a Maui County voter-approved moratorium on genetically modified organisms.

Reposted without permission from the Maui News!

In a ruling Thursday, the appeals court denied a motion to dismiss the appeal by the SHAKA Movement, opening the door for arguments before the court headquartered in San Francisco.

SHAKA attorney Michael Carroll called the ruling “really good news.”

“The court denied the motion to dismiss, allowing the court to hear full arguments on the appeal,” he said Friday. “Now the court will have to consider all our substantive arguments.”

Carroll said he also was pleased that the court ruled in favor of allowing consideration of the Center for Food Safety to file an “amicus curiae,” or “friend of the court” brief, in the case, which he called “another plus for our joint efforts.”

The 9th Circuit also will be considering requests for amicus briefs from Moms On a Mission Hui, Moloka’o Mahi’ai and Gerry Ross.

On Friday afternoon, Monsanto said its motion to dismiss the appellant’s case challenged the appeal, unsuccessfully, for lack of standing, but that the denial of the motion was without prejudice, meaning the case had not been decided on its merits.

“The court of appeals for the 9th Circuit will now move to consider the merits of the case and instructed that the standing arguments could be raised in the merits phase of the case,” the company’s statement said. “Monsanto believes the federal district court in Hawaii reached the correct conclusion invalidating the ballot initiative, and we will vigorously defend this position.”

There was no immediate comment from Maui County.

The appeals court scheduled deadlines for briefs in the case.

The SHAKA appeal stems from last year’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway to declare the Maui County GMO moratorium invalid and unenforceable. She said that the moratorium exceeded the county’s authority and was pre-empted by federal and state law.

SHAKA attorneys argued that Mollway erred in the ruling by citing a federal law that is not applicable to the Maui County moratorium ordinance.

The judge’s ruling “overrode (the people’s) rights guaranteed under the Hawaii State Constitution and invalidated the election results of county residents trying to protect themselves from unique harms affecting health, safety, the environment, natural resources, as well as Native Hawaiian rights,” the appellants’ brief says.

Mollway’s ruling shelved a SHAKA attempt to implement the moratorium that voters narrowly approved in November 2014. The ordinance would have outlawed the cultivation, growth or testing of genetically engineered crops until scientific studies determined their safety and benefits.

The moratorium initiative drew more than 23,000 votes, or 50.2 percent, in favor. Those opposed were 47.9 percent. The vote came despite biotech companies and their allies spending nearly $8 million – the most ever in a Hawaii election by far – to oppose it.

Nine days following the general election, the moratorium ordinance was challenged in court by Monsanto, Dow Agrigenetics, other seed companies and their supporters. Mollway ruled in their favor June 30.

Leaders of the SHAKA Movement, a citizens group that gathered enough signatures for the first-ever ballot initiative in the county in 2014, filed an appeal Nov. 30 with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Maui County is “ground zero” for the testing and development of genetically engineered seed crops because of Hawaii’s long growing seasons, SHAKA attorneys say. GMO agricultural operations use more than 80 different chemicals, creating “chemical cocktails” with unknown health and environmental impacts, they say.

* Brian Perry can be reached at bperry@mauinews.com.

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Maui’s Lungs Win a Big Victory as Judge Upholds 4 of 6 Complaints Filed by Citizens to Stop Cane Burning – Says Disallowed Complaints Can Be Modified.

Much to A&B’s dismay,  Judge Cordoza rules that the court WILL decide whether the DOH breached the public trust when issuing agricultural burn permits.
Next hearing Feb 26th  on Preliminary Injunction to Stop The Burn while the cases run their course.
Support this community-based legal action with a donation.  StopCaneBurning.org

ban-the-burn
What happened in court today (Feb 5, 2016) – this is the accurate and definitive summary by Karen Chun.

Judge Cardoza dismissed Counts I and II. Count I claimed that HRS 342B, the Air Pollution Control Act, and HAR 11-60.1, the implementing regulations, constituted an unlawful delegation of legislative power. Judge Cardoza concluded that as a matter of law, the delegation of power was lawful.

Count II claimed that HRS 342B violated the Art XI, Sec 9 of the Hawaii State Constitution. We relied on the Ala Loop Owners case which recognizes a private right of action to enforce environmental statutes based upon Art XI, Sec 9. He held, however, that that private right of action to enforce does not include invalidating statutes.

He also indicated that potentially these two dismissed claims could be modified and submitted anew for his consideration.

He ruled that A&B’s argument that Counts III, IV and V must be submitted to the Department of Health for resolution first and our failure to exhaust those administrative remedies barred the claims was erroneous because these counts implicated matters of law and not technical fact finding. Matters of law are for the courts to decide. He ruled we didn’t need to exhaust remedies. He ruled the court can and will decide whether the DOH breached the public trust and whether it failed to consider the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act without requiring us to go to DOH first.

Count III is the claim that the Department of Health has violated its public trust duties by issuing agricultural burn permits. Count IV claims that the issuance of burn permits violates the equal protection section of the state constitution. Count V claims that the Director of Health was required but failed to consider HRS 344, the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act, when she adopted the open air agricultural burn permit rules.

He also ruled that we are not challenging the EPA approved State Implementation Plan and therefore the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ original, exclusive jurisdiction over challenges to the SIP did not apply to Counts III, IV and V.

As to Count VI, he ruled that the question of the 120 day statute of limitations (related to whether the lawsuit was brought within that window) to challenge the lack of an environmental assessment was fact specific and the operative facts regarding when the 120 days was triggered could not be resolved in a motion to dismiss — which only looks at the law.

He then indicated that insofar as the lawsuit challenges all open air agricultural burning, the other 144 permit holders are necessary parties the case. He has given us until February 16 to decide whether to amend the complaint to avoid the interests that make them necessary parties or to come up with a plan to at least give notice to the 144 permit holders that the regulations that authorize their permits are being challenged.

The case will continue and the hearing for the motion for preliminary injunction will be heard on February 26.

Our next big deal is Feb 26 when Judge Cardoza will hear arguments on our request for an injunction to stop burning. Things are heating up and we really, really need $$$. How much money determines how aggressively we can go after A&B (e.g. take their depositions to uncover all their bad actions)

Donate here: StopCaneBurning.org

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Demise of power-purchase deal is final blow for HC&S

 

As we’ve been saying – electricity sales is why A&B kept farming sugar long after it became difficult to make a profit. So this is a double win for the environment: Shutting down the coal plant (that didn’t have proper pollution control because of it being a sugar mill) and stopping the cane burning.
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power-politics
January 10, 2016  Honolulu Star-Advertiser  By Andrew Gomes

Two heavy body blows and maybe a near knockout punch.

That’s what Hawaii’s only remaining sugar plantation took before its owner decided last week to throw in the towel and close the 36,000-acre Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. farm on Maui by year’s end.

The body blows — low sugar production and prices — were nothing new in the sugar farming industry. But the other punch was an unusual one with a stinging impact.

Alexander & Baldwin Inc., the kamaaina owner of HC&S, said its main reasons for ending 146 years of sugar cane farming and shuttering the plantation with 675 employees was two bad years of low sugar production and prices that put a roughly $33 million dent in net income last year and had little prospect of being turned around.

But the company also lost a lucrative deal late last year to supply Maui Electric Co. with power that would have provided HC&S with $19 million in projected revenue this year and next year, according to documents filed with the state Public Utilities Commission.

HC&S generates electricity by burning the fiber known as bagasse left over from processed cane, as well as coal, in a boiler to power its sugar mill and irrigation pumps. A smaller hydroelectric system on the farm also provides power. Historically, HC&S sold extra power to Maui Electric on terms that significantly helped the agricultural operation.

For instance, Maui Electric used to pay HC&S $1.8 million a year just for its commitment to provide power.

However, Maui Electric, which once relied on HC&S for about 10 percent of its electricity supply, sought in recent years to amend the power-purchase agreement in part due to its effort to move electrical generation toward more renewable sources and reduce use of dirtier sources such as coal.

HC&S, which ships raw sugar to California on a company-owned ship, would fill the ship with coal for the return trip to Hawaii. In 2014 the company burned 57,100 tons of coal, according to A&B’s most recent annual financial report.

Efforts to amend the power-purchase agreement resulted in HC&S reducing its power supply to Maui Electric at the beginning of last year to 8 megawatts from 12 megawatts. Then in October, Maui Electric stopped buying power altogether from HC&S except in emergencies under another amendment the PUC approved in September.

A loss of millions

According to the amendment request, Maui Electric is expected to pay HC&S $323,936 this year instead of $19.5 million under the prior agreement. Next year the expected payment is $94,736 instead of $19.4 million.

A&B declined to confirm the cuts described in the Maui Electric filing but said the loss of power sales, taken together with challenging sugar production volume and anticipated prices near 30-year lows, made prospects for continued losses high.

“…

Like other plantations, HC&S used technology to reduce labor. The company’s workforce of 675 is down from 776 in 2008, 1,300 in 1985 and 3,390 in 1949.

The yearly sugar production goal for HC&S had been 225,000 tons, which was last achieved in 1999. Benjamin said the “magic number” to generate more revenue than costs is around 200,000 tons. Last year production totaled 136,000 tons, and the operating loss for A&B’s agribusiness division, mainly HC&S, was $30 million.

The year before, production was 162,100 tons, and the operating loss was $12 million.

Benjamin said he doesn’t expect the recent weather patterns to change. And on top of the production outlook, low prices and lost power sales, changing regulatory restrictions and growing community opposition to historical practices such as burning cane added to HC&S’ headaches and resulted in the decision to shut down.

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Revelation of Coal Scam is the Real Reason HC&S is Ending Sugar Production

sugar-cancer-900x350Karen Chun, a Maui cane burning activist, explains why HC&S is really shutting its sugar operation down.

“All the other sugar operations went out of business because Hawaii’s land, water, power, tax and labor costs are higher than the mainland, Australia and Brazil with whom they compete.

A&B kept their sugar going because it gave them cover for their scam to sell MECO coal energy and call it “renewable” by pretending it was generated by bagasss (left over cane).

Due to our actions, the EPA and PUC became aware of this scam and the price A&B got for their coal-power was adjusted downward. That is most likely the biggest cause of the huge $30million loss last year.

Note to A&B – if you had just stopped burning cane, you might still be making a ton of money by cheating Maui ratepayers with your coal as renewable energy scam – karma is a bitch.”

See more at http://stopcaneburning.org/

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HC&S to End Sugar Cane Production after 45 Million dollars lost these last two years, costing hundreds of jobs – It didn’t have to be so bad.

power-politics
Sugar cane production on Maui is ending, nearly 350 jobs will be lost and as many more are at risk. The sad truth is that it didn’t have to happen this way.

For decades members of the Maui community have been trying to engage HC&S in a dialog to carefully construct an intelligent exit strategy to move away from sugar cane burning. HC&S steadfastly refused to seriously consider alternatives to sugar cane production and they now find their backs up against an economic wall because of, they say, rainy weather.

Cane burning may indeed stop before the end of 2016 if, as expected, Judge Cardoza grants in February a preliminary injunction resulting from a current lawsuit that shows that the regulatory process through which HC&S is granted it’s burn permits is unconstitutional.

They blame the weather. I blame their arrogance and greed.

If the company really cared for the community here, the way they claim, they would have long ago embarked down the diversification road they are now being forced, and are ill prepared, to take.

If left to their own devices HC&S will surely continue to exploit the natural resources and people of Maui with no regard to what is righteous or pono. The company is, after all, in business today as a result of the shameful and illegal practices of the colonial, plantation takeover of Hawaiian lands and indentured servitude (slavery).

For example:

The company pays next to nothing for water that EMI diverts away from streams. Water that would otherwise support indigenous farming. They do little to maintain the integrity of the water system such that much of the water that is diverted is lost to anyone’s use.

The company and regulators refuse to acknowledge years of proof that the poisonous chemicals that are regularly sprayed leave the fields and adversely effect agricultural practices and lives elsewhere on Maui.

The company and regulators also refuse to acknowledge that the air monitors they have placed to monitor cane smoke are the wrong type and poorly placed to do the job.

Predictably, signs are already showing of new forms of exploitation being devised. In anticipation of expanding the cattle industry here The Cattleman’s Association recently removed from their website their oath (written in 1996) to provide protection from the elements for cattle. President Alex Franco has reportedly already approached the Council to remove animal welfare protections on Maui so they won’t have to provide shade.

What’s next, changes to Maui’s zoning laws that would allow A&B more real estate to develop? Leases to Monsanto for more under-regulated, mixed-chemical, open-field experimentation?

Our hope is that with the power of the internet and social activism this community will be able to reveal, track and block each new ugly attempt the company makes to transfer profits off the island and avoid doing what is right for Maui.

With the end of sugar cane mono-cropping the extremely depleted soils in those fields will need remediation before other diversified crops will grow there. Erosion control will be essential. If HC&S’s narrow-minded practices persist and A&B continues to withhold infrastructure investments, the transition out of cane will surely be a disaster for Maui.

What will happen to Maui’s energy costs and air as they keep their ancient power plant going by burning more and more coal instead of sugar cane?  That plant is near the end of its life and after all these years of taking profits out of Maui they have made zero investments in what comes next.

Not so long ago very little food had to be imported here. Today Maui eats 85% to 95% imported food. As well, the islands are already saturated with more agricultural chemicals than what our delicate ecosystem can tolerate. HC&S wouldn’t bother to consider it before but now they must be led into developing crops like industrial hemp, bamboo and regenerative food producing agriculture that are decidedly not dependent on chemicals.

There are many, many options that can evolve our agricultural economy in sustainable, non-chemically dependent ways that don’t require federal subsidies, so that Maui’s agricultural workers can stand proudly and not on the backs of taxpayers.

We support legislation that would allow Hawaii’s public school lunches to stop serving millions of pounds of imported apples and off-island bananas, to be replaced with tropical fruits that can be grown here.

Shame on HC&S for arrogantly refusing change, for ignoring the obvious, eventual demise of sugar on Maui and for not doing what they could sooner to protect those 675 jobs.

 

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Was the COP 21 a success or a failure?

Many pundits say both. On the positive side, 185 global leaders have finally acknowledged a unified understanding of the scope and seriousness of the climate crisis.

Here is a photo of climate activists in a demonstration at the Eiffel Tower demanding the shift to 100% renewable energy.

Join GO GREEN at the Sustainability Summit 2016.

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The COP 21 gathering was the largest global gathering of climate and sustainability activists of all time. If you missed being there, don’t miss being part of next year’s Sustainability “Solutions” Summit 2016.
There are just 15 days until the December 31, 2015 discount deadline.
To learn more about the Summit and to see your discount level, go to:
http://www.gogreenculture.org/2016-sustainability-summit/

Many say that the levels of CO2 reduction set by the voluntary national programs of COP 21 are not enough. Left at their current levels, this will result in ecological disasters, severe and broad scale human suffering, and costs that are expected to exceed $250 billion per year. We need to do more than our leaders have set out for us.

Bill McKibben stated in Paris, “Now the real work must begin in earnest.” 

The global leaders have spoken. Many experts are saying it will be up to sustainability leaders and professionals on the local and regional levels to make the substantive shifts needed in carbon output, renewable energy, restored ecosystems, and more.

The Sustainability Summit 2016 is designed to support the accelerated success of local sustainability professionals and activists. Hundreds of proven projects and programs, including the 100 Top Best Practices of Sustainable Communities, will be shared at the Summit in July, a mere 8 months away. Don’t miss out on this important information. You will be empowered to more rapidly and cost effectively advance your corporate, organizational, and/or municipal sustainability goals. We expect Delegates to use this knowledge and wisdom to save their companies and local governments hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars on future sustainability investments.

Sign up now to be a Delegate at the Sustainability “Solutions” Summit 2016. Help your group avoid being part of the $250 billion short fall next year.

Here is a photo of San Francisco modified to show what the city could look like in 2050 based on a 12 foot rise in sea level.

Join GO GREEN at the Sustainability Summit 2016. Let’s advance the sustainability of our local cultures together over the coming year. 
There are just 15 days until the December 31, 2015 discount deadline.
To learn more about the Summit and to see your discount level, go to:
http://www.gogreenculture.org/2016-sustainability-summit/
Join GO GREEN on Maui, Hawaii ~ July 17-22, 2016

Go Green Membership

Please visit our web site and consider becoming a Go Green Member ~ starting at $3 per month or any financial level you choose.

Go to:  www.GoGreenCulture.org and click on one of the Join Us boxes.

Thank you for all you are doing to advance sustainability in our world.

Aloha ~

Gerry Dameron                  Deborah Smith

Executive Director            Education Director

Copyright © 2015 Go Green Culture Foundation, Used by permission. 

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A Huge Thanksgiving Gift To The World: EPA Pulls Registration for Dow’s Enlist Duo Herbicide Citing High Toxicity Levels

duo-pulled2
Toxic pesticide banned on genetically engineered crops  From The Pesticide Action Network

Washington D.C. — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), responding to litigation, has announced it is revoking the registration of “Enlist Duo.” Approved by the agency just over a year ago, Enlist Duo is a toxic combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D that Dow AgroSciences created for use on the next generation of genetically engineered crops, designed to withstand being drenched with this potent herbicide cocktail. In its court filing, EPA stated it is taking this action after realizing that the combination of these chemicals is likely significantly more harmful than it had initially believed.
This action resolves a year-long legal challenge filed by a coalition of conservation groups seeking to rescind the approval of the dangerous herbicide blend. EPA had approved use of Enlist Duo in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and North Dakota, and had intended to approve it in additional areas in the near future.
Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety, on behalf of Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Working Group, the National Family Farm Coalition, and Pesticide Action Network North America, had challenged EPA’s failure to consider the impacts of Enlist Duo on threatened and endangered plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. The Act requires that every federal agency consider the impacts of its actions on our nation’s most imperiled plants and animals and seek input from the expert wildlife agencies before plunging ahead, which EPA had refused to do.
“The decision by EPA to withdraw the illegally approved Enlist Duo crops is a huge victory for the environment and the future of our food,” said George Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety’s senior attorney. “We will remain vigilant to ensure industry does not pressure the agency into making the same mistake in the future.”

“With this action, EPA confirms the toxic nature of this lethal cocktail of chemicals, and has stepped back from the brink,” said Earthjustice Managing Attorney Paul Achitoff. “Glyphosate is a probable carcinogen and is wiping out the monarch butterfly, 2,4-D also causes serious human health effects, and the combination also threatens endangered wildlife. This must not, and will not, be how we grow our food.”

Dow created Enlist crops as a quick fix for the problem created by “Roundup Ready” crops, the previous generation of genetically engineered crops designed to resist the effects of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Just as overuse of antibiotics has left resistant strains of bacteria to thrive, repeated use of Roundup on those crops allowed glyphosate-resistant “superweeds” to proliferate, and those weeds now infest tens of millions of acres of U.S. farmland. Enlist crops allow farmers to spray both glyphosate and 2,4-D without killing their crops, which they hope will kill weeds resistant to glyphosate alone. But some weeds have already developed 2,4-D resistance, and the escalating cycle of more toxic pesticides in the environment will continue unless EPA stops approving these chemicals, and USDA stops rubber-stamping new genetically engineered crops.
“This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for EPA taking this important action to protect people, rare plants, and animals from Enlist Duo,” said Lori Ann Burd, Environmental Health director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “As we gather with our families for the holiday feast, we can all breathe a little bit easier knowing that EPA has protected our food from being drenched with this poisonous pesticide cocktail.”
Judy Hatcher, executive director of Pesticide Action Network, commented: “EPA is taking a step in the right direction, but Enlist Duo shouldn’t have been given the green light in the first place. Too often, GE seeds and the herbicides designed to accompany them are rushed to market without thorough evaluation of their real-world impacts on community health and farmer livelihoods.”

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Monsanto Burns: Arson Suspected

 

MonsantoArsonEarlier this week, a Monsanto research facility in France was burned to the ground. Monsanto and investigators suspect an arsonist was responsible for the blaze.

Monsanto representative Jakob Witten told Reuters that investigators “strongly suspect it was a crime as no electrical or other sources were found.”He added that “No Monsanto sites in Europe have so far been the victim of fires of criminal origin, this is unprecedented violence.”

The fire had multiple points of origin, meaning it is unlikely the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction or other natural causes. Investigators also noticed a strong smell of gasoline in different areas of the site.

France announced in June that it was banning sales of Roundup, Monsanto’s flagship herbicide, amid public pressure and the World Health Organization’s announcement that the product is probably carcinogenic. Further, last month the country announced it was strengthening its ban on genetically modified crops. Monsanto is one of the most hated corporations on the planet and faces particularly strong resistance in France. If the fire is confirmed to have been arson, it is possible this vociferous opposition might have been a motivating factor.

Nevertheless, the recent fire is merely the tip of the iceberg with regard to Monsanto’s recent problems.

The company recently moved to close three different research facilities to save money in the face of declining profits. As Reuters reported last week, Monsanto research centers in Middleton, Wisconsin, Mystic, Connecticut, and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, will soon be closed to cut costs.

Last month, the infamous company announced it would be cutting 2,600 jobs — 12% of its workforce — in order to lower costs. Monsanto also announced a loss of 19 cents per share in the most recent quarter. Profits are expected to remain low throughout the year.

The Associated Press reported that Monsanto lost $156 million in the final quarter of last year alone, and this year is expected to be even worse.

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Monsanto Tells 9th Circ. GMO Foes Can’t Appeal Law’s Nixing

By Emily Field, Guest Blogger

Monsanto says only Maui’s Mayor can defend our Election Win in court.  And we know how much Arakawa loves Monsanto…  Here’s Alan lying to the public for Monsanto:

Law360, New York (October 29, 2015, 11:41 PM ET) — Monsanto told the Ninth Circuit on Thursday that a bid by a citizens coalition trying to revive a Maui County, Hawaii, law restricting genetically modified crops should be dismissed for lack of standing since the citizens aren’t elected officials or county agents.

According to Monsanto Co., the appeal brought by the Shaka Movement — which sponsored the ballot initiative for a county ordinance restricting the cultivation of genetically modified crops — should be dismissed for lack of standing since Maui County itself hasn’t appealed a district court decision that struck down the law on preemption grounds.“In this case, the only adverse party with a direct stake in the outcome — the county — has chosen not to appeal. The only parties pressing an appeal are the initiative proponents, who intervened below to defend the constitutionality of the ordinance they proposed and supported.”Monsanto says U.S. Judge Susan Oki Mollway’s June ruling didn’t injure the group in any constitutional sense.

The judge didn’t order them to do anything, or to stop doing something, and under theU.S. Supreme Court ruling in Hollingsworth v. Perry — which held that backers of California’s ban on same-sex marriages lacked standing to defend the law — the fact that the group sponsored the initiative didn’t give them the direct stake in the outcome of their appeal that would confer standing, Monsanto argued.

“[Hollingsworth v. Perry] establishes a bright-line rule: The only party with a cognizable independent interest in defending the constitutionality of a generally applicable local law is the locality, and the only persons permitted to assert that interest in federal court, accordingly, are the locality’s elected officials or other agents,” Monsanto said.

In June, the judge said the ban directly conflicted with a 1987 regulation enacted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that allows genetically engineered organisms under certain circumstances, and is therefore expressly preempted by the federal Plant Protection Act.

Judge Mollway also ruled that the ban was preempted by state law and it exceeds the authority delegated to Maui County, as stated in the Maui County Charter.

Monsanto, Dow subsidiary Agrigenetics Inc. and the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation of Maui County brought their suit just days after the ballot initiative was approved, with 51 percent of the vote, in November. Dow and the other parties claimed the ordinance would hurt Hawaii’s seed industry, which contributes $84 million annually to the local economy.

Shaka has argued that the ordinance is needed to protect the health of local citizens and environmental resources.

However, Monsanto contended that the group has demonstrated “no concrete personal stake” in the ordinance, and that its members offer little evidence that they have have personally suffered any harm from genetically engineered farming or any reason for future harm.

“That is hardly surprising,” Monsanto said. “[Genetically engineered] farming has co-existed in the county for many years without causing any harm to the county or its residents.”

Counsel for both parties declined comment Thursday.

The appellants are represented by A. Bernard Bays, Karin L. Holma and Michael Charles Carroll of Bays Lung Rose & Holma.

The respondents are represented by Paul D. Alston and Nickolas A. Kacprowski ofAlston Hunt Floyd & Ing; Christopher Landau of Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Richard P. Bress, Philip J. Perry, Andrew D. Prins and Jonathan Y. Ellis of Latham & Watkins LLP; and Margery S. Bronster and Rex Y. Fujichaku of Bronster Fujichaku Robbins.

The case is Robert Ito Farm Inc. et al. v. County of Maui et al., case number 15-16552, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

We know how maui’s mayor Alan Arakawa thinks bout GMO’s here he is lying to the public, saying that under the GMO moratorium police will raid you backyard to see if GM seeds from dog food has sprouted and is growing in violation of the law. What an ….

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Lawmakers Manipulate Maui Meeting: Answers Lacking, Ignore Followup Questions

Antsy audience not so sure that “Lawmakers Listen”

The public meeting at the Haiku Community Center on Tues., Oct 13 hosted by Rep. Lynn DeCoite (D) featured an all star cast of members of the Hawaii State House including all six members of the Maui delegation and five of the top leadership. It drew a good crowd who soon grew restless with the format.House members fielded an array of written questions ranging from coral reefs, to local roadways – as well as many that focused on the GMO initiative, food labeling, water, agriculture and the preservation of open space.

The only applause lines came during the discussion of marijuana as a “cash crop” to replace sugar, where Maui already has a “name brand.”

As the evening wore on the audience grew impatient and frequently interrupted the speakers with comments shouted from the floor.


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According to Mike Gagne, a long time Haiku community leader commented this morning via email, “The format while intended to keep order and decorum muted the impact of the questions from the audience. Rep Mizuno (Vice Speaker- (D) Oahu who served as moderator) was trying to condense the questions (or multiples on the same topic) into one question and it was not successful. The audience was frustrated and began to grumble noticeably calling “Just read the question!” to Mizuno.

“The topics of real interest to the audience specifically GMO moratorium, broad use of restricted use pesticides, cane burning and the Public Trust Doctrine were only briefly touched on in a group that overwhelmingly voted in support of curtailing some of these activities until they are proven safe or at least given a fair review by the DOH.”

It was Gagne’s opinion that

“the disconnect was created by having the moderator read the questions (with halting mispronunciations) instead of having the actual questioner ask with their own voice and emotive impact.”

This muted and frustrated the audience.


“As a long term community association president,” he wrote in a follow up email, “ I have learned how to do that in Haiku with contentious issues and it is not similar at all to the legislature’s method. So in the overall I would say that they weren’t listening because they were talking and most people don’t do both well simultaneously.”

“One of the more successful efforts,,” Gagne continued, “came when Rodney Kilbourn spoke up about the acquisition of the Peahi-Manawai lands to the panel. Although it is not their issue specifically there were council members in the audience who heard the message. The consensus is that the County is the first position on the purchase, but in the event the Mayor fails to act the legislators got an earful and will be called upon to do something.

According to Gagne, “The Peahi-Manawai lands comprise about 267 acres of ocean front makai of Hana highway that are currently owned by A&B/Versa Development. The land has been in pineapple for many years. These lands are part of a long anguish in the North Shore community both for how they were acquired, cleared of settlement, and used for farming.

“Now as A&B begins to pull out of their outlying properties the North Shore communities want to see some public good come from the transfer of over 1100 acres from Maliko Gulch to the area commonly referred to as “Jaws” to a private developer. This is a natural area mostly too steep to develop and farm comprising revered cultural sites and land formations which could make National Historic Site status but will at least be kept as reserve for future recreation areas.

“A large part of the block of land comprising six large agricultural lots is being recombined and subdivided for housing as large lots. No Planning Dept review is required according to law which further increases the chill in the community. Not only will there be more people, but the Paia Bypass remains a figment somewhere in the future.

“The pressure,” he noted, “is increasing to do something preservation-wise which may have been apparent at the Tuesday night meeting. There are many forces at work but the consensus opinion is to save it.”

As for other who attended Gagne observed, “Generally, it was an unhappy audience as the meeting progressed. Outbursts became more frequent when the responses to substantive questions were essentially off-topic. People wanted deeper answers than Speaker Joe’s (Souki) US Constitution and Magna Carta comments about The Public Trust Doctrine as it applies to Hawaii.

Indication of audience unrest included media style hand gestures to “speed it up” (fingers go in a circle) or “cut it short” (finger across the neck). House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke got “yak-yak” signals (fingers and thumb flapping like a talking mouth) as the crowd perceived her remarks as long winded. At one point Souki lost his composure and threatened to shut the whole thing down. Unfortunately his remarks did not come across as decisive, they came across mean.

.As for DeCoite, her fellow lawmakers had nothing but praise for first year performance. The Molokai resident who was appointed to the seat on the death of Mele Carroll served in the 2015 session representing the multi- island district which includes East Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

But with the majority of the voters concentrated in East Maui from Paia to Hana and DeCoite’s own affiliation being at odds with some she was appointed to represent, many came away from the gathering wondering if she would be able to hold on to the seat in the next election.

Though the sign on the wall said that “Lawmakers Listen” the MO seemed more aimed at containing the discussion than enlightenment.

For the ten elected State House Democrats who paid a visit to East Maui – this was not their finest hour.

WHO WAS THERE:
On the podium:
The entire six member Maui house delegation attended the event.

Speaker of the House Joe Souki (D) 8th District- Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu

Justin Woodson (D) 9th District – Kahului

Angus McKelvey (D) 10th District – West Maui, Maalaea, North Kihei

Kaniela Ing (D) 11th District – Kihei, Wailea, Makena

Kyle Yamashita (D) 12th District – Sprekelsville, Pukalani, Makawao, Kula + portion of Kahului

Lynn DeCoite (D) Paia, Haiku,Hana, Lanai, Molokai, Kahoolawe

Also on hand from the House leadership were

John Mizuno (D) 28th District – Vice Speaker,
(He served as moderator and read the written questions)
Oahu – Kalihi Valley, Kamehameha Heights & portion lower Kalihi

Sylvia Luke (D) – Chair House Finance Committee
Oahu 25th District – Oahu Makiki, Punchbowl, Pacific Heights, Pauoa

Scott Saiki (D) House Majority leader
Oahu – 26th District McCully, Kakaako, Downtown

Cindy Evans (D) Majority Floor Leader
Island of Hawaii – 7th District North Kona, North and South Kohala

In the audience
A partial list of politically active Mauians who attended the event included:

Maui County Council members Mike White (Chairman), Bob Carroll, Mike Victorino, Stacy Crivello and staffer Amanda Martin for Gladys Baisa

Also on hand were Steve Castro representing ILWU Local 142, Vincent Mina of the Hawaii Farmers Union United, Warren Watanabe – Executive Director Maui County Farm Bureau

Candidate Deirdre Teagarden running for the Kihei seat presently held by Kaniela Ing; Terez Amato, former candidate for seat currently held by Sen. Roz Baker; and Stacey Moniz running for the Upcountry seat on the Maui County Council.

Community activists of various persuasions included Dick Mayer, Mark Hyde, Tom Blackburn Rodriguez and Sam Small

A wide cross section of the residents of East Maui and their families also attended.

Susan Halas is a freelance writer and guest blogger on MAUIWatch. She has followed Hawaii politics since 1976 when she moved to the Valley Isle and became a staff writer for the Maui News. The long time Wailuku resident is a former Maui correspondent for other local print and digital publications including Maui Weekly.

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The EPA broke the law when it approved a new pesticide

Living on Earth October 06, 2015 · 8:45 AM EDT Writer Adam Wernick bees_cjb_top_photoMinnesota beekeeper Steve Ellis stands in front of once bee-filled boxes that were left empty after being hit by colony collapse disorder. Credit: Chris Jordan-Bloch/Earthjustice

The EPA failed to follow its own rules for ensuring chemical safety and illegally approved a powerful insecticide linked to declining numbers of honeybees, a federal appeals court has ruled.

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found the EPA failed to get enough evidence from the manufacturer, Dow AgroSciences, to approve the safety of Sulfoxaflor. Sulfoxaflor is a neonicotinoid, a systemic insecticide that becomes embedded in a plant’s tissues and is poisonous to insects.

“The court found that EPA approved Sulfoxaflor without any reliable information about the risk that it would present to honeybee colonies,” explains Greg Loarie, a staff attorney for Earthjustice, one of the plaintiffs in the case. “That, of course, is a huge shortcoming when we’re in the midst of this crisis in which we are losing over one-third of our honeybee colonies every year, and science is pointing to these sorts of insecticides as a primary cause.”

The case began in the summer of 2013, shortly after EPA approved Sulfoxaflor. EarthJustice was approached by several US commercial beekeeping trade groups, including the American Honey Producers Association and the American Beekeepers Federation.

“They asked, ‘Is there anything we can do about this latest neonicotinoid coming onto the market,’” Loarie says. “We took a look at the registration and found that indeed EPA had not met its own guidelines. It didn’t have the information that it was supposed have in hand — and so we filed suit.”

Under the law, this type of case bypasses the lower courts and goes straight to the court of appeals. Courts typically give EPA a great deal of deference in these matters because they involve a fair amount of scientific expertise; the courts are often recluctant to second-guess the science.

But in the case of Sulfoxaflor, Loarie says, “the science was so lacking and it was so clear that EPA just didn’t have this fundamental information, the court found that the registration had to be overturned unless and until that information is brought to bear.”

The way the law is set up, when a company wants to register a chemical with the EPA, the manufacturer of the chemical does the testing and then submits the results to the EPA for review. Dow submitted six studies to the EPA. EPA found that all six of the studies had numerous scientific flaws and were inherently unreliable, Loarie says.

“For instance, most of them studied an exposure to Sulfoxaflor that was well below what would actually be happening in the field and several of them lacked control groups of any kind,” he explains. “Yet, EPA decision-makers decided to register Sulfoxaflor, notwithstanding the flaws inherent in the studies.”

To determine the impact a insecticide will have on what they call “non-target insects,” like honeybees, EPA looks at what it calls the “acute toxicity” of a pesticide. “Essentially that means they take a honeybee into the laboratory, they expose that individual adult honeybee to the pesticide, and they figure out how much of the pesticide it takes to kill that adult honeybee,” Loarie explains.

If they find that bees will be exposed to less than that lethal dose, they conclude the pesticide will not cause any problems to the bee population. But this process falls to pieces when you factor in the systemic insecticide overlay, Loarie says.

“It may not kill on contact, but the adult bee might go out into the field, collect pollen that has the Sulfoxaflor or the systemic insecticide in it, and bring the pollen back into the hive.”

Over time the build-up of the systemic insecticide within the hive causes the whole colony of bees to sicken, weaken and ultimately collapse. The law says EPA needs to consider this possibility, Loarie explains.

“EPA has to consider what happens when we put a hive out in the real world and put it in a situation where it is feeding on crops that have been sprayed with the systemic insecticide,” Loarie says. “That’s the information EPA so desperately needs and the information that it certainly lacked in the case of Sulfoxaflor.”

Now that the court has set aside EPA’s decision to register Sulfoxaflor, the pesticide is off the market unless and until Dow submits to EPA the proper information and EPA goes through the review process again — and follows the law this time around, Loarie says.

This story is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s Living on Earth with Steve Curwood

http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-10-06/epa-broke-law-when-it-approved-new-pesticide

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Yep. What kids eat matters.

Kid eating healthy

A new study in Environmental Health Perspectives confirms that when children eat organic, the levels of pesticides in their bodies — including the brain-harming variety — go down. This seems a common-sense conclusion for many of us, but the more science we have to document the case, the better.

Join the Pesticide Action Network

As we’ve discussed earlier in GroundTruth blogs, residues found on food are an important source of pesticide exposure for children. Earlier, smaller scale studies have also shown that switching to an organic diet reduces pesticide breakdown products in children’s bodies.

This new study, conducted by researchers at UC Berkeley, compares a larger group of children of similar ages and socio-economic backgrounds in rural and urban California cities — Salinas and Oakland — and the results confirm food as a source of kids’ pesticide exposure. Given what’s known about the impacts oflow-level exposures to these chemicals, it also confirms the importance of doing something about it.

Toward healthier school food

Throughout the month of October, parents, teachers, farmers and “healthy school food” advocates are celebrating National Farm to School Month. This week is National School Lunch Week as well, and as we mark the exciting progress in these areas, it’s important to keep these pesticide studies in mind. If we’re serious about supporting the good health of children — it’s also National Children’s Health Month, after all — we must remember that pesticides have been linked to brain harm, autism, developmental delays and childhood cancers, among other health impacts.

And these child-harming chemicals are commonly applied to fruits and vegetables across the country.

Fruits and vegetables are of course core sources of nutrition for our children, and while we always wholeheartedly encourage eating fresh fruits and veggies, these studies underscore that the healthiest version for our kids will be organic or as close to pesticide-free as possible.

School lunches are a great place to start making this change, and it doesn’t need to break the bank. Just look at this example fromConscious Kitchen, an organization that converted the school lunch program in one school district in northern California to one that serves “Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal” and GMO-free food every meal at their school cafeterias. They produce meals from scratch at the schools throughout the district at an affordable average cost of $0.70 per meal for breakfast and $1.73 per meal for lunch.

Celebrating progress

National initiatives like Farm to School offer a proverbial win-win, helping to bring nutritious food to schools while supporting local farmers. Some of the Farm to School partnerships support organic farmers, putting their fresh, pesticide-free produce on cafeteria trays. We’re hoping that over time, this growing movement will focus even more on ensuring healthy, local, organic or pesticide-free foods are being served in schools across the country.

As I wrote in an earlier blog, several Minnesota and Wisconsin schools have already moved towards healthy and organic lunches, including extensive salad bars and as much organic food as possible. And initiatives, like those led by the Chef Ann Foundation, have helped to move thinking about school lunches towards healthier, more diverse menu options. In some school districts, like Berkeley, California, not only is pesticide-free food served whenever possible, but children are also encouraged to grow their own healthy produce in organic gardens.

There’s a lot of good work happening out there — it’s exciting! But as parents, we do need to roll up our sleeves and pressure our school districts to provide safer, pesticide-free school food for our children. Hopefully by the time next year’s National School Lunch Week rolls around we’ll have even more success stories to share!

Medha Chandra is PAN’s Campaign Coordinator. Her work focuses on pesticide impacts on maternal and children’s health as well as international pesticide campaigns. She works closely with network members from other PAN regional centers around the world. Follow @ChandraMedha

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Monsanto Stunned – California Confirms ‘Roundup’ Will Be Labeled “Cancer Causing”

491049363963912192Claire Bernish Guest Blogger September 12, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Sacramento, CA — California just dealt Monsanto a blow as the state’s Environmental Protection Agency will now list glyphosate — the toxic main ingredient in the U.S.’ best-selling weedkiller, Roundup — as known to cause cancer.

Under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 — usually referred to as Proposition 65, its original name — chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm are required to be listed and published by the state. Chemicals also end up on the list if found to be carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) — a branch of the World Health Organization.

In March, the IARC released a report that found glyphosate to be a“probable carcinogen.”

Besides the “convincing evidence” the herbicide can cause cancer in lab animals, the report also found:

“Case-control studies of occupational exposure in the U.S.A., Canada, and Sweden reported increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustments to other pesticides.”

California’s decision to place glyphosate on the toxic chemicals list is the first of its kind. As Dr. Nathan Donley of the Center for Biological Diversitysaid in an email to Ecowatch, “As far as I’m aware, this is the first regulatory agency within the U.S. to determine that glyphosate is a carcinogen. So this is a very big deal.”

Now that California EPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has filed its notice of intent to list glyphosate as a known cancer agent, the public will have until October 5th to comment. There are no restrictions on sale or use associated with the listing.

Monsanto was seemingly baffled by the decision to place cancer-causing glyphosate on the state’s list of nearly 800 toxic chemicals. Spokesperson for the massive company, Charla Lord, told Agri-Pulse that “glyphosate is an effective and valuable tool for farmers and other users, including many in the state of California. During the upcoming comment period, we will provide detailed scientific information to OEHHA about the safety of glyphosate and work to ensure that any potential listing will not affect glyphosate use or sales in California.”

Roundup is sprayed on crops around the world, particularly with Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready varieties — genetically engineered to tolerate large doses of the herbicide to facilitate blanket application without harming crops. Controversy has surrounded this practice for years — especially since it was found farmers increased use of Roundup, rather than lessened it, as Monsanto had claimed.

Less than a week after the WHO issued its report naming glyphosate carcinogenic, Monsanto called for a retraction — and still maintains that Roundup is safe when used as directed.

On Thursday, an appeals court in Lyon, France, upheld a 2012 ruling in favor of farmer Paul Francois, who claimed he had been chemically poisoned and suffered neurological damage after inhaling Monsanto’s weedkiller, Lasso. Not surprisingly, the agrichemical giant plans to take its appeal to the highest court in France.

It’s still too early to tell whether other states will follow California’s lead.


This article (California Just Announced It Will Label Monsanto’s Roundup as Cancer Causing) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish andtheAntiMedia.org.

 

http://www.mintpressnews.com/monsanto-stunned-california-confirms-roundup-will-be-labeled-cancer-causing/209513/

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Want to use more pesticides than the law allows? No problem. Just ask, they’ll change the label for you.

Trick or Treat? The Good Neighbor Program – A Masquerade Of Disclosure
Posted on October 9, 2015 by garyhooser, Guest Blogger
pesticide-application

Read through to the end please. You will see that disclosure is not really disclosure and the label is not really the law because these companies disclose only a fraction of what they use and change the label without telling us.

A win of sorts was announced today in Civil Beat.

http://www.civilbeat.com/2015/10/hawaii-to-expand-voluntary-pesticide-reporting-by-big-ag-companies/?cbk=56180df6ccad4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=hawaii&utm_content=

It is an inadequate win, but a small win none-the-less for those who worked so hard on Bill 2491 and continue to work hard around our State on related issues over the past few years.

While the Good Neighbor Program of “volunteer disclosure” and 100′ buffer zones is woefully inadequate, there is no question that the amount of disclosure and the amount of public education that exists today is far more than what it was two years ago.

Many will say that the Good Neighbor Program is “better than nothing” and though sometimes I have mixed feelings about this, at the end of the day my conclusion is yes, it is better than nothing and is a step in the right direction.

Now we press to make it mandatory with government over-sight and have it include ALL of the pesticides used by these large multinational agrochemical companies.

The companies, their lobbyists and their State regulator/enablers think this will buy them some time. They can and now will say that they do disclose and they do have buffer zones. This statewide move is from the same 2491 playbook – offer voluntary industry self regulation to pacify the public and dilute the political need to pass a Bill mandating true disclosure and real meaningful buffer zones.

Why is the Good Neighbor Program not adequate? Why is it in large part a trick of non-disclosure masquerading as full disclosure?

The two main points which make the Good Neighbor Program entirely inadequate are:

1) The voluntary nature of the program means there is no government oversight, no verification of the accuracy of the reporting, no accountability and no penalty for providing false information. This is industry self-regulation and is insufficient. The industry has a local and global history of repeatedly misrepresented their actions and operations. To be meaningful any disclosure program requires independent verification.

9 MOST FREQUENT MISSTATEMENTS MADE BY CHEMICAL COMPANIES IN HAWAI’I http://tinyurl.com/9Misstatements-07-07-15

Read this New York Times story about how Syngenta misrepresents the facts: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/24/business/international/a-pesticide-banned-or-not-underscores-trans-atlantic-trade-sensitivities.html?_r=0

2) The Good Neighbor Program includes only a small fraction of the total pesticide usage by the large agrochemical companies.

a. Restricted Use Pesticide’s (RUP’S) are the most highly regulated but represent 25% or less of the total pesticides used by these companies. Approximately 18 tons of RUP’s are used annually on Kauai alone based on State Department of Agriculture historical sales data (the ONLY verifiable data available). See the exact calculations and the source documents for the 18 ton figure here: https://garyhooser.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/one-of-the-largest-and-most-credible-news-source-in-the-world-reports-on-kauai-and-the-chemical-companies/

The companies continue to refuse to disclose General Use Pesticide (GUP). Glyphosate was recently declared a “probably carcinogen” and one of the primary crops grown/tested is “Round-Up Ready” corn which requires the application of large amounts of glyphosate, yet the companies refuse to disclose their glyphosate use and it is not included in the Good Neighbor Program.

b. There are a dozen or more GUP’s being used by these same companies however the exact types and quantities used are unknown because there is no disclosure required. These additional GUP’s are also often labeled as hazardous to humans, animals and aquatic creatures, not to mention bee’s and other organisms.

c. A third group of pesticides being used by these companies and not being disclosed in the Good Neighbor Program are those pesticides referred to as “Special Local Need Label Registrations”.

These are pesticides in which the seller/user of the pesticide requests and receives from the State Department of Agriculture special consideration and exceptions to the existing Federal label requirement’s. These “special exceptions” include allowing the pesticides to be used in wind conditions double the recommended wind speed on the existing label, and increasing the frequency of pesticide applications above and beyond the federal recommendations.

These pesticides carry strong warnings as to health and environmental impacts, yet there is no public disclosure when the labels are changed/amended and no public disclosure via the Good Neighbor Program.

i. One of the pesticides where the label has been changed is Evik (herbicide where allowable windspeed was doubled (10mph to 20mph) for application on Maui sugar cane).

The Maui sugar industry complained to the State Department of Agriculture (SDOA) that it was too windy on Maui to use Evik and alternatives would be too costly and requested that the SDOA change the label on Evik to double the allowable wind speed from a maximum of 10mph to 20mph. The SDOA complied. There was no requirement to inform the public of the proposed change, no questions were asked as to the quantity of the herbicide being used, nor any in depth investigation as to the location of population centers, nor any discussion about the impact of burning the cane and the consequently the burning of that herbicide. Conditions were placed to minimize drift and the applicator admonished to not apply when drift might occur, but bottom line is the allowable wind speed was doubled, there was no public notification and little due diligence went into the decision making

Amended label for Evik is here: http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/labels/sln/1204_2017.pdf

The regular Evik label is here: http://www.syngentacropprotection.com/pdf/labels/scp786al19g1209.pdf

EvikDF-label
This label warns Evik is toxic to aquatic animals and to not use near waterways. There are numerous other warnings including warnings about burning the empty containers as a means of disposal.

ii. Another of the pesticides where the label has been changed is Tilt and is a fungicide used on corn.

The amended label allows for an additional application of this fungicide by shortening the break between a pre-harvest application from 30 days to 3 days is here: http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/labels/sln/1202_2017.pdf

The regular label is here: http://www.syngentacropprotection.com/pdf/labels/scp617al2m0509.pdf

This label warns that because of residue issues, no food crops or animal grazing should be done for 100 days after application. In addition there are numerous additional warnings.

iii. A third pesticide where the label has been amended without any disclosure or public notification is Admire Pro.

That amended label is here: http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/labels/sln/1102_2016.pdf

The regular label is here: http://www.cdms.net/LDat/ld74S003.pdf

Admire Pro is “highly toxic to bees” (and other organisms as well). This label also carries the below warnings:

IMPORTANT: THIS LABEL IS ONLY FOR USE BY AUTHORIZED BAYER CROPSCIENCE PERSONNEL, MEMBERS, OR THEIR GROWERS UNDER THE HAWAII CROP IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION AND MAY NOT BE COPIED OR RE-TRANSMITTED IN ANY FORM. NO PART(S) OF THE CROP TREATED WITH ADMIRE PRO Systemic Protectant SHALL BE DIVERTED AS FOOD FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION OR FEED FOR ANIMAL CONSUMPTION.

IMPORTANT: Bayer CropScience has not investigated the use of ADMIRE PRO Systemic Protectant for potential adverse interactions with any other crop protection or fertilizer products used in seed corn production, nor across potential commercial breeding lines. Therefore, adverse effects arising from the use of ADMIRE PRO Systemic Protectant on seed corn cannot be predicted and are therefore the responsibility of the User.

d. A fourth group of pesticides that are not disclosed in the Good Neighbor Program are those that require a “Experimental Pesticide Use Permit”. While the fact that these permits exist is known, the quantity and nature of the permits and experimental pesticide use is not known as there are no disclosure requirements.

Permit samples are here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B43mvAFMJQpcejRHVW8wbUE2SjQ/view

and also here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B43mvAFMJQpcOWI5MFVvY1kxeFk/view

Read The Actual Good Neighbor Program Requirements Here: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/files/2014/01/Voluntary-reporting-guidelines_11-12-13_FINAL.pdf
1) The voluntary buffer zone of 100’ is woefully inadequate. In addition the buffer does not apply to other areas where people regularly congregate such as businesses, parks, and roadways. In addition the buffer does not apply to streams or other sensitive environmental waterways. In any case 100’ is nothing.

2) Pre-application notices are only for schools, hospitals and medical clinics who register.

What about everyone else? Other homes and businesses or people traversing the area? There should be pre-notification for the entire community so people can avoid the area if they are concerned or represent an especially sensitive population (pregnant women, young children etc).

3) There is no provision of immediate disclosure in the case of suspected exposure by any resident who might be in the area.

A list of Special Local Need Label Registrations is here: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/files/2013/01/List-of-Active-SLNs-By-SLN-Number-with-Labels_01302015.pdf

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Maui’s One Chance To Get The Cable Service We Deserve

slow_internet-maui

Download Info:
CABLE-HEARING-TOOLKIT

Flyer-FINAL-8-2-15

 

 

PUBLIC HEARINGS ON TRANSFER OF OCEANIC TIME WARNER CABLE TO CHARTER

 

LAHAINA Tuesday, September 8  – 4:30PM West Maui Senior Center

WAILUKU – Friday, September 11 – 4:30PM Cameron Center Auditorium

LANAI    – Tuesday, September 15 – 12:00PM Lanai Senior Center

HANA – Wednesday, September 16 – 12:00PM Hana Community Center

MOLOKAI – Thursday September 17 – 4:00PM Kaunakakai Gym

 

Good News! The State DCCA has the power to require the new owners of the cable company to provide tangible benefits for Maui Nui residents as a condition of sale. If YOU speak up and be heard, you may finally have a chance to get the cable and Internet service you pay for. Please review the transfer documents on the DCCA website: http://cca.hawaii.gov/catv/cable_operators/charter-time. And feel free to use the following TALKING POINTS as a guide in preparing your testimony.

 

1. We want DCCA enforced service level agreements and rate transparency in Cable TV and Internet contracts so they cannot lie to us and charge us for fast Internet speeds and other services without actually delivering advertised performance.

 

2. Make digital cable TV, Fiber to the Home, and affordable, gigabit Internet available to EVERY resident and business in Maui County by 2020

 

3. Guarantee by contract that Akaku/PEG channels will be fully funded for the term of the franchise and displayed in the same manner and accessibility as PBS and Oahu local broadcast channels in analog, digital, HD, on every tier and on-demand on every device.

 

4. Customer service call centers, locations, field technicians and technical assistance must be available locally 24/7 x 365 with response times regulated by service agreements that include automatic refunds for lost service or outages.

 

5.  Free Wi-Fi, live transmission capability and high speed broadband service to, public and private schools, government buildings, hospitals, libraries, community centers, community media centers, non-profit agencies and public parks.

 

6. Guarantee that Charter matches the best public benefits it provides to any other location in the nation.

Send written testimony before Friday, September 25, 2015 to:

DCCA-CATV. P.O. Box 541. Honolulu, Hawai’i 96809

Email:  cabletv@dcca.hawaii.gov Fax:  808-586-2625

 

Go to akaku.org for more information

 

STATE TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARINGS ON TRANSFER OF OCEANIC TIME WARNER’S CABLE FRANCHISES TO CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS

 

SHOW UP AND BE HEARD!

 

LAHAINA Tuesday, September 8  – 4:30PM West Maui Senior Center

WAILUKU – Friday, September 11 – 4:30PM Cameron Center Auditorium

LANAI    – Tuesday, September 15 – 12:00PM Lanai Senior Center

HANA – Wednesday, September 16 – 12:00PM Hana Community Center

MOLOKAI – Thursday September 17 – 4:00PM Kaunakakai Gym

 

THERE IS GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS

FIRST, THE BAD NEWS

 

The Feds would not let the biggest cable company in America, Comcast buy the second biggest, Time Warner. Now all Oceanic Time Warner Cable systems in Hawaii are

about to be swallowed up by what, based on the evidence, could possibly be the worst cable company ever created, NEW CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS. But don’t take our word for it. Check out what cable consumers all over America are saying about the Old Charter. Below are some links to review in anticipation of the hearings. Holy mackerel! You won’t believe what you find here. Everything from through the roof pricing, to horrendous service, to slow Internet, to rude customer service… you name it.

If you can’t handle strong language, better not read these.

 

http://charter-communications.pissedconsumer.com/complaints.html

http://www.yelp.com/biz/charter-communications-glendale-3

http://www.charter-sucks.com/

https://www.facebook.com/CharterComplaints

http://www.complaintsboard.com/bycompany/charter-communications-a192.html

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/cable_tv/charter.html

BE INFORMED go to: http://cca.hawaii.gov/catv/cable_operators/charter-time-warner-cable-merger/ and review the posted documents. Check out FCC Form 394 Exhibit 6.

 

NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS

 

Because this is a TRANSFER of CONTROL from Time Warner to Charter and not a rubber stamped, Franchise Renewal, the State DCCA has powerful discretion in requiring by force of contract, enforceable, tangible public benefit for Maui residents in exchange for Charter’s use of our valuable PUBLICLY OWNED RIGHTS OF WAY. DCCA is granting a telecommunications monopoly that is worth billions over the franchise term.

 

Akaku has reviewed and analyzed the transfer documents on the DCCA website and prepared these recommended TALKING POINTS you, the consumer, can use as a guide to inform your testimony and spec out the multichannel video service and fast Internet system you want for the next fifteen or twenty years!

 

TALKING POINTS ON THE OCEANIC TIME WARNER/CHARTER MERGER

 

1. CHARTER APPLICATION FOR TRANSFER OF CABLE SERVICE IS INCOMPLETE

In its Response to DCCA questions in its application, Charter refused to answer questions re: Section IV.C (1) listing names and locations of current franchises, and number of subscribers and gross revenues for each. It has claimed in several incidences that essential information requested by DCCA is “not within the DCCA’s scope of review”, “not reasonably necessary”, “burdensome”, “non-jurisdictional”, “overbroad” or “unrelated to the Transaction”. Charter has not adequately explained character issues regarding sexual discrimination and discrimination against people with disabilities cited in Section IV.B of their Application and in FCC Form 394 Exhibit 6., Charter has not adequately explained its legal, financial or technical capabilities. The Charter Application lacks specificity and detail in multiple responses to DCCA questions i.e. Response in Section II.G, General Information regarding changes, is deficient and incomplete. Response to IV.E, Technical Qualifications and Plans, are so incomplete that their lack of specificity makes them almost meaningless.

 

2. WE WANT A COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM FOR THE 21st CENTURY WITH ENFORCABLE SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENTS.

We want DCCA to put concrete language in ironclad contracts in addition to the franchise agreement that enforce rate transparency and service level agreements with Charter so they cannot lie to us and charge us for fast broadband Internet speeds and MVDS/OTT services without actually delivering advertised performance. We want cable programming service agreements as well. These agreements should contain penalties for non-compliance and be reviewable by DCCA every two years.

 

3. DCCA MUST NOT ALLOW CHARTER TO USE MULTICHANNEL VIDEO PROGRAMMING DISTRIBUTION SERVICES (MVPDS) OR OTHER TECHNICAL MEANS TO CIRCUMVENT FRANCHISE FEE PAYMENTS

Everyone knows technology is evolving at blinding speed and what we used to call “TV” is being delivered everywhere and on every device. Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) delivery of multichannel distribution of video content Over the Top (OTT) should not be used to circumvent franchise fee funding of community communication and cable regulation. DCCA must recognize this and mandate by contract that Akaku/PEG channels are fully funded for the term of the franchise at minimum present day levels and displayed in the same manner and accessibility as PBS and Oahu local broadcast channels in analog, digital, HD, on every tier and on-demand on every device.

 

4. CHARTER’S NON-COMMITMENT TO PEG ACCESS IN RESPONSE TO SECTION IV.E 10 and NOTE 13 NOTWITHSTANDING, CHARTER NEEDS TO AGREE TO FULLY FUND AKAKU, PBS, AND DCCA CABLE AND BROADBAND REGULATION AT AMOUNTS EQUIVALENT TO NO LESS THAN PRESENT (2015) FRANCHISE FEE LEVELS ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION FOR THE FRANCHISE TERM. THIS MINIMUM LEVEL OF FUNDING MUST BE PROVIDED REGARDLESS OF CHANGES IN FEDERAL OR STATE LEGISLATION DURING THE TERM OF THE FRANCHISE.

 

5. CHARTER MUST PROVIDE MINIMUM BROADBAND SPEEDS BY CONTRACT

Upload and download Internet speeds must be guaranteed by contract at affordable rates. Currently Internet service from Oceanic Time Warner is inconsistent, unreliable and erratic in most areas of Maui Nui making it difficult to move large media, data or medical files. In its application, Charter has promised minimum download broadband speeds of 60 mbps and a 300 mbps rollout on Maui. In the era we are entering called the “Internet of Things”, this is simply not good enough. Charter needs to demonstrate concrete plans to meet the State of Hawai’i’s stated broadband goal of Symmetrical Gigabit Internet Service to all Hawaii residents by 2018. These speeds need to be codified by contract in enforceable service agreements with its customers and all rural areas including Hana, Lanai and Molokai must be included in the expansion. A three-year rate freeze should be put into effect as well.

 

6. THE CHARTER APPLICATION PROMISED TRANSITION TO ALL DIGITAL NETWORKS WITHIN 30 MONTHS OF CLOSE OF TRANSACTION with a caveat that 1% of homes will not be upgraded to digital within this timeframe. Charter must agree by contract that Maui, Molokai and Lanai subscribers will not be part of this 1% digital divide and that Akaku PEG channels and channel designations will be preserved and transitioned to digital and HD in the same manner as PBS and local broadcast with channel placement and compression algorithms approved by Akaku and by DCCA in advance of transition.

 

7. CHARTER MUST COMMIT TO PUBLIC INTEREST BANDWIDTH AND FIBER TO THE HOME.  Charter must set aside a minimum of 10% of its total bandwidth for HD and on-demand options for all PEG channels. Charter must also agree to a 100% Fiber build out to the home (FTTH) for all voice, data, cable and Internet subscribers within 4 years of close of transaction or by the end of 2020 whichever comes first.

 

8. LOCAL CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARDS MUST BE MAINTAINED

Customer service call centers, locations, field technician and technical assistance must be available locally 24/7 x 365 with prompt response times regulated by service agreements. Agreements must include automatic refunds for lost service or outages.

 

9. CHARTER MUST PROVIDE FREE Wi-Fi AND UPSTREAM VIDEO CONNECTIONS TO COMMUNITY ANCHOR INSTITUTIONS AND DESIGNATED FACILITIES. To support economic development and education, Charter Communications must provide live upstream transmission capability and high speed broadband service to designated Community Anchor Institutions, public and private schools, government buildings, hospitals, libraries, community centers, community media centers, non-profit agencies, and public parks.

 

10. CHARTER MUST MATCH BEST PUBLIC BENEFIT DEAL  A “most favored nation” clause should be included in the franchise agreement that would require Charter to meet or exceed any public benefit service provided by Charter in any of its markets at the request of the DCCA if the DCCA determines the service to be in the best interest of the public.

 

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Pesticides in paradise: Hawaii’s spike in birth defects puts focus on GM crops

Local doctors are in the eye of a storm swirling for the past three years over whether corn that’s been genetically modified to resist pesticides is a source of prosperity, as companies claim, or of birth defects and illnesses

By Christopher Pala in Waimea for The Guardian

Pediatrician Carla Nelson remembers catching sight of the unusually pale newborn, then hearing an abnormal heartbeat through the stethoscope and thinking that something was terribly wrong.

The baby was born minutes before with a severe heart malformation that would require complex surgery. What worried her as she waited for the ambulance plane to take the infant from Waimea, on the island of Kauai, to the main children’s hospital in Honolulu, on another Hawaiian island, was that it was the fourth one shehad seen in three years.

In all of Waimea, there have been at least nine in five years, she says, shaking her head. That’s more than 10 times the national rate, according to analysis by local doctors.

Nelson, a Californian, and other local doctors find themselves in the eye of a storm swirling for the past three years around the Hawaiian archipelago over whether a major cash crop on four of the six main islands, corn that’s been genetically modified to resist pesticides, is a source of prosperity, as the companies claim – or of birth defects and illnesses, as the doctors and many others suspect.

After four separate attempts to rein in the companies over the past two years all failed, an estimated 10,000 people marched on 9 August through Honolulu’s Waikiki tourist district. Some signs like, “We Deserve the Right to Know: Stop Poisoning Paradise” and “Save Hawaii – Stop GMOs” (Genetically Modified Organisms), while others protested different issues.

“The turnout and the number of groups marching showed how many people are very frustrated with the situation,” says native Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte of the island of Molokai.

Seventeen times more pesticide
Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 1.02.11 PM
Waimea and the GMO fields. The two orange-roof buildings at bottom left are the Middle School. The one to its right is the hospital. Photograph: Christopher Pala for the Guardian

Waimea, a small town of low, pastel wood houses built in south-west Kauai for plantation workers in the 19th century, now sustains its economy mostly from a trickle of tourists on their way to a spectacular canyon. Perhaps 200 people work full-time for the four giant chemical companies that grow the corn – all of it exported – on some 12,000 acres leased mostly from the state.

In Kauai, chemical companies Dow, BASF, Syngenta and DuPont spray 17 times more pesticide per acre (mostly herbicides, along with insecticides and fungicides) than on ordinary cornfields in the US mainland, according to the most detailed study of the sector.

That’s because they are precisely testing the strain’s resistance to herbicides that kill other plants. About a fourth of the total are called Restricted Use Pesticides because of their harmfulness. Just in Kauai, 18 tons – mostly atrazine, paraquat (both banned in Europe) and chlorpyrifos – were applied in 2012. The World Health Organization this year announced that glyphosate, sold as Roundup, the most common of the non-restricted herbicides, is “probably carcinogenic in humans”.

The cornfields lie above Waimea as the land, developed in the 1870s for the Kekaha Sugar Company plantation, slopes gently up toward arid, craggy hilltops. Most fields are reddish-brown and perfectly furrowed. Some parts are bright green: that’s when the corn is actually grown.

Both parts are sprayed frequently, sometimes every couple of days. Most of the fields lie fallow at any given time as they await the next crop, but they are still sprayed with pesticides to keep anything from growing. “To grow either seed crops or test crops, you need soil that’s essentially sterile,” says professor Hector Valenzuela of the University of Hawaii department of tropical plant and soil science.

When the spraying is underway and the wind blows downhill from the fields to the town – a time no spraying should occur – residents complain of stinging eyes, headaches and vomiting.

“Your eyes and lungs hurt, you feel dizzy and nauseous. It’s awful,” says middle school special education teacher Howard Hurst, who was present at two evacuations. “Here, 10% of the students get special-ed services, but the state average is 6.3%,” he says. “It’s hard to think the pesticides don’t play a role.”

At these times, many crowd the waiting rooms of the town’s main hospital, which was run until recently by Dow AgroSciences’ former chief lobbyist in Honolulu. It lies beside the middle school, both 1,700ft from Syngenta fields. The hospital, built by the old sugar plantation, has never studied the effects of the pesticides on its patients.

The chemical companies that grow the corn in land previously used for sugar refuse to disclose with any precision which chemicals they use, where and in what amounts, but they insist the pesticides are safe, and most state and local politicians concur. “The Hawai‘i legislature has never given the slightest indication that it intended to regulate genetically engineered crops,” wrote lawyer Paul Achitoff of Earthjustice in a recent court case.

As for the birth defects spike, “We have not seen any credible source of statistical health information to support the claims,” said Bennette Misalucha, executive director of Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, the chemical companies trade association, in a written statement distributed by a publicist. She declined to be interviewed.

Nelson, the pediatrician, points out that American Academy of Pediatrics’ report, Pesticide Exposure in Children, found “an association between pesticides and adverse birth outcomes, including physical birth defects”. Noting that local schools have been evacuated twice and children sent to hospital because of pesticide drift, Nelson says doctors need prior disclosure of sprayings: “It’s hard to treat a child when you don’t know which chemical he’s been exposed to.”

Her concerns and those of most of her colleagues have grown as the chemical companies doubled to 25,000 acres in a decade the area in Hawaii they devote to growing new varieties of herbicide-resistant corn.

Today, about 90% of industrial GMO corn grown in the US was originally developed in Hawaii, with the island of Kauai hosting the biggest area. The balmy weather yields three crops a year instead of one, allowing the companies to bring a new strain to market in a third of the time.

Once it’s ready, the same fields are used to raise seed corn, which is sent to contract farms on the mainland. It is their output, called by critics a pesticide delivery system, that is sold to the US farmers, along with the pesticides manufactured by the breeder that each strain has been modified to tolerate.

Corn’s uses are as industrial as its cultivation: less than 1% is eaten. About 40% is turned into ethanol for cars, 36% becomes cattle feed, 10% is used by the food industry and the rest is exported.

‘We just want to gather information’

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 1.00.51 PM
A march against pesticides in Hawaii. Photograph: Christopher Pala for the Guardian

At a Starbucks just outside Honolulu, Sidney Johnson, a pediatric surgeon at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children who oversees all children born in Hawaii with major birth defects and operates on many, says he’s been thinking about pesticides a lot lately. The reason: he’s noticed that the number of babies born here with their abdominal organs outside, a rare condition known as gastroschisis, has grown from three a year in the 1980s to about a dozen now.

“We have cleanest water and air in the world,” he says. So he’s working with a medical student on a study of his hospital’s records to determine whether the parents of the gastroschisis infants were living near fields that were being sprayed around the time of conception and early pregnancy. He plans to extend the study to parents of babies suffering from heart defects.

“You kind of wonder why this wasn’t done before,” he says. “Data from other states show there might be a link, and Hawaii might be the best place to prove it.”

Unbeknownst to Johnson, another two physicians have been heading in the same direction, but with some constraints. They’re members of a state-county commission appointed this year to “determine if there are human harms coming from these pesticides”, as its chairman, a professional facilitator named Peter Adler, tells a meeting of angry local residents in Waimea earlier this month. Several express skepticism that the panel is anything but another exercise in obfuscation.

The panel of nine part-time volunteers also includes two scientists from the chemical companies and several of their critics. “We just want to gather information and make some recommendations,” Adler tells the crowd of about 60 people. “We won’t be doing any original research.”

But one of the two doctors, a retired pediatrician named Lee Evslin, plans to do just that. “I want see if any health trends stand out among people that might have been exposed to pesticides,” he says in an interview. “It won’t be a full epidemiological study, but it will probably be more complete than anything that’s been done before.”

The panel itself, called the Joint Fact-Finding Study Group on Genetically Modified Crops and Pesticides on Kauaʻi, is the only achievement of three years of failed attempts to force the companies to disclose in advance what they spray and to create buffer zones – which they do in 11 other states, where food crops receive much less pesticides per acre.

The pushback from the expansion of the GMO acreage first emerged when Gary Hooser of Kauai, a former state senate majority leader who failed in a bid for lieutenant governor in 2010, ran for his old seat on the Kauai County council in 2012.

“Everywhere I went, people were concerned about GMOs and pesticides. They were saying, ‘Gary, we gotta do something’,” he recounts over coffee at the trendy Ha Coffee Bar in Lihue, the island’s capital. “Some were worried about the GMO process itself and others by the threats of the pesticides, and it became one of the dominant political issues.”

Once elected, Hooser, who has a ruddy complexion, piercing blue eyes and arrived in Hawaii as a teenager from California, approached the companies for information about exactly what they were spraying and in what amounts. He was rebuffed.

In the process of what he called “doing my homework”, he discovered that the companies, unlike regular farmers, were operating under a decades-old Environmental Protection Agency permit to discharge toxic chemicals in water that had been grandfathered from the days of the sugar plantation, when the amounts and toxicities of pesticides were much lower. The state has asked for a federal exemption for the companies so they can avoid modern standards of compliance.

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 1.00.38 PMHe also found that the companies, unlike regular farmers, don’t pay the 4% state excise tax. Some weren’t even asked to pay property taxes, worth $125,000 a year. After pressure from Hooser and the county tax office, the companies paid two years’ worth of back taxes.

So with the backing of three other members of the seven-member Kauai council, he drafted a law requiring the companies to disclose yearly what they had grown and where, and to announce in advance which pesticides they proposed to spray, where and when. The law initially also imposed a moratorium on the chemical companies expanding their acreage while their environmental impact was assessed.

After a series of hearings packed by company employees and their families wearing blue and opponents wearing red, the bill was watered down by eliminating the moratorium and reducing the scope of the environmental study. The ordinance then passed, but the companies sued in federal court, where a judge ruled that the state’s law on pesticides precluded the counties from regulating them. After the ruling, the state and the county created the joint fact-finding panel officially committed to conducting no new research.

Hooser is confident the ruling will be overturned on appeal: the Hawaii constitution “specifically requires” the state and the counties to protect the communities and their environment.

In his appeal, Achitoff of Earthjustice argued that Hawaii’s general pesticide law does not “demonstrate that the legislature intended to force the county to sit and watch while its schoolchildren are being sent to the hospital so long as state agencies do not remedy the problem.”

In the Big Island, which is called Hawaii and hosts no GMO corn, a similar process unfolded later in 2013: the county council passed a law that effectively banned the chemical companies from moving in, and it was struck down in federal court for the same reasons. A ban on genetically modified taro, a food root deemed sacred in Hawaiian mythology, was allowed to stand.

In Maui County, which includes the islands of Maui and Molokai, both with large GMO corn fields, a group of residents calling themselves the Shaka Movement sidestepped the company-friendly council and launched a ballot initiative that called for a moratorium on all GMO farming until a full environmental impact statement is completed there.

The companies, primarily Monsanto, spent $7.2m on the campaign ($327.95 per “no” vote, reported to be the most expensive political campaign in Hawaii history) and still lost.

Again, they sued in federal court, and, a judge found that the Maui County initiative was preempted by federal law. Those rulings are also being appealed.

In the state legislature in Honolulu, Senator Josh Green, a Democrat who then chaired the health committee, earlier this year attempted a fourth effort at curbing the pesticide spraying.

In the legislature, he said, it’s an open secret that most heads of the agriculture committee have had “a closer relationship with the agro-chemical companies than with the environmental groups”.

Green, an emergency room doctor who was raised in Pennsylvania, drafted legislation to mandate some prior disclosure and some buffer zones. “I thought that was a reasonable compromise,” he says. Still, he also drafted a weaker bill as a failsafe. “If even that one doesn’t pass, it’s going to be obvious that the state doesn’t have the political will to stand up to the chemical companies,” he said in a phone interview at the time. “That would be terrible.”

The chairman of the senate agricultural committee, Cliff Tsuji, didn’t even bring the weaker bill to a vote, even though Hawaii’s governor had pledged to sign any bill that created buffer zones.

Asked by email what he would do now, Green replied with a quip: “Drink scotch.”

This report was supported by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

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